Craig Sjodin, Disney ABC TV
"People are expecting me to be good, and I don't know if I am or not," the vivacious country singer tells The Boot with a laugh. "I hope people don't have too high of expectations for me, because I'm not a dancer. Derek is going to do the best that he can teaching me as much as he can in that short time period. So I'm not worried about him, I'm worried about me! I'm stepping outside my comfort zone."
It took several asks to get Kellie to take that step, not because of her trepidation but because of scheduling conflicts. The singer-songwriter has been invited to join previous seasons of the hit reality competition show, but this was the first time her touring schedule allowed her to do it ... much to her Grandpa Ken's delight.
"'Dancing With the Stars' is his favorite show," says Kellie. "When he found out that I was asked to do it again, he told me if I didn't do it then I wasn't his favorite granddaughter anymore. But I am his only grandchild, so he's stuck with me! He's such a good man. He's more excited about this than anybody."
The 26-year-old is not putting her music career on hold to do the show. In fact, recording her new album is what gave Kellie time off from the road and ultimately allowed her to do "Dancing With the Stars." So the next few months will find the blond beauty studio hopping, from her record label's Nashville recording studio to the Los Angeles dance studio. She is even hoping the first single from the upcoming project will be released while she's still dancing.
The multi-tasking entertainer, who got her start on "American Idol," has made a big name for herself in the TV world, also through hilariously candid talk show interviews and segments she's hosted for programs such as "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "The Tonight Show." But the singer insists that TV-Kellie will always take a backseat to Country Music-Kellie. To her, "Dancing With the Stars" is not a career-builder, but a character-builder.
"I like getting to know people and putting myself out there to try new things. I have sometimes felt like people want me to go over to TV, but that's not where my soul belongs. My soul is in Nashville and country music, that's where I belong. All the other stuff is just for fun. There's no reason why you can't do it all. Just look at Dolly [Parton]. She's country music royalty, and also a businesswoman who's done movies, television ... everything! There's no reason why you can't try everything. I'm so thankful to be in this position where I'm able to do things that bring me joy."
The live, two-hour season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars" is tonight (March 18) at 8:00 PM ET on ABC. Come back to The Boot next week for more of our exclusive interview with Kellie!